David Rodeback on Faith, Religion, and Scripture

Here’s the beginning of my latest post about religion, with a link to the rest of it. Below it you’ll find everything else, arranged in these categories: Faith, Inspiration, and Discipleship; Explaining the Mormons (Latter-day Saints); and Exploring Scripture. If you like something you read, please click the Like button below it. If you don’t, don’t.

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Faith Amid Doubt

We mortals typically act in faith despite our doubt, not because we have no doubt. If we doubted less, perhaps we would need less faith.

The man that feareth, Lord, to doubt,

In that fear doubteth thee.

George MacDonald, The Disciple, 1867

Perfect love casteth out fear,” John wrote (1 John 4:18; see also Moroni 8:16). Perhaps we might also say, “Perfect faith casteth out doubt.”

I accept the truth of John’s statement about perfect love. I think my made-up version about perfect faith is probably true as well. But to date I have found neither perfect love nor perfect faith in myself. Maybe there have been a few exceptional moments of fleeting near-perfection scattered through the decades of my life, but I wouldn’t bet money on it. Yet I have some faith, and I do love — amid my doubts and fears.

You and I live our lives in imperfect love and imperfect faith. We hope both virtues are maturing in us, but perfection is a distant goal, and our progress depends utterly on abundant grace from a Source outside ourselves.

Meanwhile, remember that “grain of mustard seed”? (See Matthew 17:20.) Our faith doesn’t have to be perfect to be real. A small amount, amid our doubts, can be enough for today.

Everything Else

Click or tap the heading of your choice to see articles in that category.

Faith, Inspiration, and Discipleship
faith amid doubt

Faith Amid Doubt

The presence of doubt does not require the absence of faith, only faith’s imperfection. We mortals typically act in faith despite our doubt, not because we have no doubt. If we doubted less, perhaps we would need less faith.

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“Fit Us for Heaven” (Thoughts on a Christmas Afternoon)

I’ve been thinking a lot about music during this Christmas season. Bits of text more than whole songs have had me pondering. I’ve long appreciated Christmas hymns which celebrate but also look beyond the (mostly) sweet story of the Savior’s birth.

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Welcome to Utah sign

Neighbors, Strangers, Pilgrims, Friends

When we truly welcome others into our towns and neighborhoods – and homes, hearts, and circles of friends – we’re not just being nice. We’re obeying two key commandments. Both are literally as old as Moses.

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Easter flowers

One Savior, Four Gifts (Easter Thoughts)

Four immeasurable gifts give meaning and permanence to all other good things in our lives. They open our eyes to the great human and natural beauty which surrounds us. They steady us when we stumble and lift us when we fall. … They bear sure witness of a time beyond time, when all that is good will continue, and all that is not will fall away.

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Lorenzo Snow

Lorenzo Snow on Leadership (Sometimes the Lesson Is for Me)

Lorenzo Snow: “To become as God would wish us, we must accustom our minds to rejoice in seeing others prospered as ourselves; rejoice in seeing the cause of Zion exalted by whatsoever hands Providence may order; and have our bosoms closed against the entrance of envy when a weaker instrument than ourselves is called to greater honor; be content in magnifying a lesser office till called to a higher; be satisfied in doing small things and not claim the honor of doing great ones.”

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autumn leaves

Thanksgiving Thoughts

What if today is for thanking a deity who put me in a place and time in which I have food to eat and work to do, some freedom to enjoy as I’m doing it, some faithful friends around me, and a comfortable place to lay my head?

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wagon

Circle the Wagons? Or Leaven the Loaf?

Our light is Christ. He didn’t circle the metaphorical wagons. He was famous for eating with publicans and sinners, for blessing the leper and the adulteress in their shame. He even defended such souls against the official wagon-circlers of his day. He told the elders and chief priests, “The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31).

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waiting for dawn

Of Light, When We Cannot See It

The thing about actual predawn darkness is that you know it’s about to end. Dawn comes like clockwork. The troubles which darken our minds and hearts are less predictable. Sometimes the light seems so faint and distant that we wonder if it’s a mirage. Sometimes we cannot see it at all, and we are left to walk by faith alone – and to wonder whether we still have, or ever had, any of that.

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“Every Good Thing”

Peter said that the Savior “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). What if he had said something slightly different: “he…

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Simply Good Books

Reading in Transit: Jana Riess and Julie Schumacher

Context (or Chatter) I spend more time writing than reading, these days — too little of both — and I…

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Tokens of Thanks

One of my first conscious acts on this Thanksgiving morning was to pull a folder from my file cabinet and…

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General Conference and My Obedience

How much of what I hear in conference — or in other church meetings, or read in the official writings of Church leaders — am I required to obey, as a committed Latter-day Saint? Am I permitted to employ my own reason and inspiration to choose the counsel which applies to me, adapt it to my circumstances, and ignore the rest, or is that too much like selective obedience, which is a lot like disobedience? How nearly does counsel given by church leaders approach the status of scripture? Is counsel the same as commandment?

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Explaining the Mormons (Latter-day Saints)

General Conference and My Obedience

How much of what I hear in conference — or in other church meetings, or read in the official writings of Church leaders — am I required to obey, as a committed Latter-day Saint? Am I permitted to employ my own reason and inspiration to choose the counsel which applies to me, adapt it to my circumstances, and ignore the rest, or is that too much like selective obedience, which is a lot like disobedience? How nearly does counsel given by church leaders approach the status of scripture? Is counsel the same as commandment?

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What Mormons Mean: Translating General Conference (into English)

Every church or religion has its own vocabulary, which can easily make its meetings seem strange to outsiders. Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are no exception. We even think friendship is a verb; the ripples from this barbarous pebble are sometimes conspicuous. It’s a good thing the Lord is merciful. He gives us excellent, beautiful languages, and we insist on . . . But I digress.

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What Mormons Mean: “The Church Is True”

If you spend any time in church-related settings with Mormons — members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — it won’t be long before you hear the words, “I know the Church is true.” What do we mean when we say our Church is true? What don’t we mean? Should you be offended, if you’re not a Mormon?

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Exploring Scripture
Carl Bloch - Jesus Turning Water to Wine

Reading the New Testament (Week 6)

This week’s reading is John 2-4. Jesus attends a wedding at Cana in Galilee, goes briefly to Capernaum, then heads south to Jerusalem for Passover, after which he preaches in Judea and briefly in Samaria on his way back to Galilee to preach.

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Reading the New Testament (Week 5)

This week’s readings are Matthew 4 and Luke 4 and 5. They include Jesus’ temptations in the desert and his early preaching and miracles in Galilee, and Peter walking on the water.

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Reading the New Testament (Week 4)

This week’s readings are Matthew 3, Mark 1, and Luke 3. John the Baptist preaches, baptizes Jesus, and is cast into prison. Jesus begins to preach in Galilee; calls Simon Peter, James, and John to follow him; and heals many including Simon Peter’s wife.

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reading scripture

Reading the New Testament (Week 3)

This week’s reading is John 1. John speaks of the Word made flesh, answers the Pharisees’ questions about his own identity, and baptizes Jesus. Jesus invites Philip to follow him and praises Nathanael as a guileless Israelite.

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King James Version LDS edition footnotes

Reading the New Testament (Week 2)

This week’s readings are Luke 2 and Matthew 2, which recount the birth of Jesus, the visits of the shephers and the wise men, Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, and the holy family’s flight to Egypt and eventual return to Nazareth.

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Reading the New Testament (Week 1)

Mary speaks of prophecy and God’s power and mercy, of the House of Israel and of divine promises to Father Abraham. She celebrates God’s exaltation of the humble and poor, and rejoices, “He hath filled the hungry with good things.

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reading

Reading the New Testament: Introduction (Week 0)

A person whose heart and mind — today, on a given topic — are thorny ground may be excellent soil on another topic or on another day. In some cases that day may be far in the future, but God is patient, and we can be patient too.

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Short Take: Skipped Are the Words of Isaiah?

I recently baked some fresh Alaska salmon. It practically melted in my mouth. I almost didn’t need teeth. But I…

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Short Take: Parallel Experiences

In 1 Nephi 1 Lehi’s experience resembles Joseph Smith’s later experience with visions and the gold plates (see Joseph Smith…

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Short Take: “The Lamb . . . Shall Feed Them”

Sometimes, when reading the Revelation of John, we come across gems which don’t require us to decode a lot of…

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Short Take: Paul, Agrippa, Grace

Paul tells King Agrippa what he did at Jerusalem and elsewhere: “Many of the saints did I shut up in…

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Short Take: “And Lifted Him Up”

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple . . . And a certain man lame from his…

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All Faith, Religion, and Scripture Articles
faith amid doubt

Faith Amid Doubt

Carl Bloch - Jesus Turning Water to Wine

Reading the New Testament (Week 6)

Reading the New Testament (Week 5)

Reading the New Testament (Week 4)

reading scripture

Reading the New Testament (Week 3)

King James Version LDS edition footnotes

Reading the New Testament (Week 2)

Reading the New Testament (Week 1)

reading

Reading the New Testament: Introduction (Week 0)

“Fit Us for Heaven” (Thoughts on a Christmas Afternoon)

Welcome to Utah sign

Neighbors, Strangers, Pilgrims, Friends

Easter flowers

One Savior, Four Gifts (Easter Thoughts)

Lorenzo Snow

Lorenzo Snow on Leadership (Sometimes the Lesson Is for Me)

autumn leaves

Thanksgiving Thoughts

wagon

Circle the Wagons? Or Leaven the Loaf?

waiting for dawn

Of Light, When We Cannot See It

“Every Good Thing”

Short Take: Skipped Are the Words of Isaiah?

Simply Good Books

Reading in Transit: Jana Riess and Julie Schumacher

Short Take: Parallel Experiences

Tokens of Thanks

Short Take: “The Lamb . . . Shall Feed Them”

Short Take: Paul, Agrippa, Grace

General Conference and My Obedience

Short Take: “And Lifted Him Up”

My Bishop Shoes

Short Take: More Than a Sower

Lenten Reflections

good Samaritan

Short Take: One Parable, Six Roles — Good Samaritan

daily bread

Short Take: “Our Daily Bread” – The Source of All Life

Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower

Short Take: Shepherds and Lambs

Is It Too Late to Think (or Read) About Christmas?

Short Take: Huldah the Prophetess

Thankful Reflections on an Interesting Year

Short Take: “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing”

Most of It Comes Down to This

Building Our Refuge

Short Take: “Fear Not, I Am with Thee”

Marilynne Robinson: “As if People Were Less than God Made Them”

A Gem from General Conference: Divine Aid

What Mormons Mean: Translating General Conference (into English)

What Mormons Mean: “The Church Is True”

A Brief Personal Declaration

C. S. Lewis on Prayer and More

Short Take: Micah on Pleasing the Lord

Short Take: Elijah’s Post-Miracle Depression

Short Take: Do We Praise Enough?

Short Take: Here Am I

Short Take: Old Law for New Times

Short Take: Using the JST

About Me

I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I won’t complain if you use the nickname Mormon. By my definition (not everyone’s) I’m a Christian. Whatever you call yourself, you’re welcome here. I write to explain and inspire, if I can; to discuss and explore — not to proselyte.

My writings are sometimes apologetic, in the sense of reasoned argument justifying or defending my faith by explaining it. But I make no apologies (in the conventional sense) for having faith, for having a faith, or for presuming to discuss and ponder.

A Bit More Chatter

“Faith without works is dead,” James said. I’ll buy that. Here are some other postulates:

  • Faith without brain cells is mostly dead, too, but probably doesn’t know it.
  • Yesterday’s faith is of little use today.
  • Faith and action are not contradictory concepts.
  • Thinking and believing are not mutually hostile activities. They are the most natural and necessary partners in the universe.
  • Sometimes Latter-day Saints (Mormons) need to be translated, before what they do or say makes much sense to other people, even other believers. I do some of that here.

Favorite Links

Disclaimer

Disclaimer: I am in no way or degree an official spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or its leaders. They don’t tell me what to write. They don’t tell me what not to write. I’ll take credit for any errors here. If you find any truth here and care to give proper credit, please aim it far, far above my pay grade, where it belongs.

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